The Old Testament is that portion of the Bible that was written before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. It is made up of 39 books, which includes Genesis through Malachi. One of my favorite Old Testament books is Ezra, where the book is named for the primary character, but it does not declare its author. The book encapsulates the restoration of Israel after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
Ezra, a priest, is shown as a significant contributor to the spiritual and moral reawakening of the Jewish people as they come out of their long exile, rebuild the Temple, and work to reestablish their way of covenant life with the One True God. This book is often read in conjunction with Nehemiah as a combined narrative. Scholars date that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the 7th year of the reign of Artaxerses (458 B.C.) and Nehemiah about thirteen years later (445 B.C.).
Read Nehemiah 8:4.
Picture Ezra standing on a newly built wooden platform within newly built walls surrounding the city. Now picture Ezra standing on that platform reading God’s Word (the Jewish Torah or Law, the first five books of their sacred writings) to the people for six hours! With no electronic projection or assistance (i.e., sound system).
Having begun the process of building a safe community for the Hebrew people, Ezra now is promoting a way of life that is centered on and renewed by unswerving allegiance to the Torah. As Ezra read the holy Scriptures to the people, they wept, worshipped, and prayed. If you read the rest of chapter eight and continue into chapter nine, they confessed sin, turned individually and corporately from sin to the holy God, and renewed their commitment to walk in God’s will and make God’s Word their rule for living. And they were grateful for it as well.
Think. God’s Word is so powerful that all you have to do is expose people to it and their lives are changed. Read the text again: “Ezra stood on a platform…they had made for a purpose.”
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, one of the first books produced was the Bible. It gave birth to the Reformation, influenced the Industrial Revolution, as well as the American Revolution, and changed the course of world history for the better. Think about how Christians have been dedicated to translating the Bible into the languages of other people groups for hundreds of years. Colleagues of mine with Wycliffe Bible Translators spent 25 years learning the language of an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea, created an alphabet into which they wrote and presented a copy of the New Testament to tribal leaders – so they could know the God of heaven and earth, the sea and the dry land. That tribe has come to know the One True God!
The writer of the Book of Psalms and the apostle Paul (writer of many New Testament books) agreed that God gave us the Bible (Old and New Testaments) to reveal Christ to us so that in Him we might have eternal life and walk pleasing to Him (Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
We have been given a platform in our world today in order to reach others with the message of Jesus. The apostle John wrote, “These are written so that you may know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Think theologically. Read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word. Then go out and pass it on.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz